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Why Your Semen Might Be a Different Color Than Usual

Maybe you’re just a frequent masturbator who loves onions?

Sometimes our bodily fluids are a slightly different color than we’re used to. Tragically, semen is no exception. We’re not just talking minor shades of cream here — your sperm can be yellow, brown, pink or even green. If that all sounds scary, that’s because it is. Well, only sorta. 

On the average day, sperm should be white, clear or grey. It could be all three of these at once. Semen primarily gets its coloring from various components produced by your prostate gland, seminal vesicles, the bulbourethral gland and the urethral gland. Among them are zinc, calcium, citric acid, sodium, enzymes and other mineral-like substances that tend to be white or colorless.

When your sperm appears any other shade, it likely isn’t the sperm itself that’s changed color. Instead, your sperm has mixed with another substance. Say your sperm is yellow: You know what else is yellow, and comes from your dick? Yup, you might have some urine in that there semen. Considering that they share some of the same plumbing, it’s totally normal for semen and urine to blend together sometimes, particularly if you pee and then ejaculate shortly after. Yellow dyes in foods, as well as foods high in sulfur like onions and garlic, can also cause a yellow coloring. A 2017 study from the University of Milan found that alcohol intake can cause yellow semen, and Healthline further suggests marijuana can, as well. 

If it’s far more yellow than seems normal or these other causes don’t apply, it’s possible there’s an issue. Urinary tract infections, prostate infections or an enlarged prostate could be responsible. Similarly, infections can also lead your semen to be green-ish — not from urine alone, but from pus or other secretions that infections produce. Sorry to make you think about that. 

Oddly enough, just as jaundice can make your skin and eyes have a yellow hue, it can do the same for your semen. Jaundice is caused by a buildup of a yellow pigment called bilirubin, a byproduct of your liver breaking down red blood cells. An excess of white blood cells, typically the sign of an infection or autoimmune disorder, can also produce a yellow coloring. 

Most other colors that might appear in your semen, such as brown, pink, red or orange, are all the result of blood. Aged blood often has a brown or orange hue to it, while pink or red would indicate the blood is fresher. Recent surgery can cause blood to appear in your semen in any of these shades, as can a variety of sexually transmitted infections, high blood pressure and in rare cases, cancer. As with green and yellow, prostate infections can produce bloody-colored semen, too. 

While all of those might be frightening, the frequency of how often you ejaculate can even cause blood to appear. Ejaculating too often, too irregularly or edging can all cause it to happen, for some reason. 

For the goths out there, semen can even be black. Unfortunately, this is typically caused by super-old blood caused by spinal injuries or — appropriately — heavy metal poisoning. 

Considering the massive variety of scary things that could cause your cum to be weird colors, anything but the occasional hint of yellow is worth discussing with a doctor. Your semen might have blood in it because you’re into edging, or it could be cancer. It’s not worth just assuming the former is responsible.